I was introduced to NamNam at Greenbelt a year back, and just fell in love with the food. The flavors were fresh and very clean, and that got me started on the fast track to appreciating the native dishes unique to my country. After a confusing bought of creating NamNam’s identical sister, Manam, at the Mall of Asia, NamNam officially adopted the new name. I am happy that this brilliant Filipino restaurant is now so much closer to a Southerner such as myself! And what’s more, this place isn’t as packed as its smaller, Makati-based sibling.
One of the most convenient things about Manam is that you can order their dishes in three sizes: Small (a personal serving), Medium (good for three people), and Large (good for 6 people). This is excellent if you want to try a lot of dishes without bruising your back pocket or having to polish off a big bowl of kare-kare by your lonesome. Another interesting tidbit to note is that Manam has two versions of their dishes: a classic version of Pinoy favorites as well as their creative counterpart.
To start, the Ensaladang NamNam (S – Php 115; M – Php 195; L- Php 355) is a brilliant take on a Pinoy salad, perfecting the balance of sweet, salty, nutty, and sharp. A hodgepodge of tinapa flakes. mangga’t bagoong, pomelo, native tomatoes, red onions, and crushed peanuts, this has a little bit of everything – and the portion size isn’t at all bad for a small-sized dish.
If all you really want is something to nibble on while you wait for your mains to arrive, the Caramelized Patis Wings (S- Php 155; M- Php 285; L- Php 515) ia an interesting take on the bar chow staple. Make sure you really get that sweet, salty sauce in all the nooks and crannies of the wings and drummets before taking a bite!
Manam’s Crunchy Salt & Pepper Squid Rings with a Sweet Chili Sauce (S – P140; M – P255; L – P440) is similar to that of the Singapore staple, superbly executed leaving the squid tender and soft. The little bits of toasted garlic chips don’t help in one’s self-control of trying not to go through the whole plate in three minutes flat.
For dishes that go great with rice (or a cold brewskie), the House Crispy Sisig (S – Php 120; M- Php 205; L – Php 375) at Manam does not disappoint – it was chewy and crunchy at the same time, with lots and lots of chicharon on top! And surprisingly, their version isn’t as oily as the sisig you get elsewhere.
A twist to the humble sizzling pork face is their Corned Beef Sisig (S – Php 145; M- Php 265; L- Php 480), which is basically corned beef topped with a sunny-side up egg and crunchy string potatoes. I was never a fan of corned beef (I remember taking home boxes of the stuff from Dubai everytime we’d come home for summer vacations), and this was more like a brunch option than a lunch dish.
If you’ve ever wondered what Butterflied Fried Pla Pla with Buro and Mustasa (S – Php 240; M- Php 410; L – Php 790) looks like, here it is. How you go about eating it is getting a piece of the fried fish and placing it in the middle of a mustasa leaf, slapping on a good amount of buro (a fermented rice paste) , wrapping it all up into a tight, little cigar and take a bite. Of course, this also goes phenomenally well with white rice.
Manam is popular for their intriguing take on a Pinoy favorites. One that should not be missed out on is the Sinigang na Beef Short Ribs & Watermelon (S- Php 220; M- Php 395; L- Php 725). Adding the sweet watermelon to the sour sinigang thickens the broth (the way that gabi would) gives the broth a flavor profile that is a bit odd, especially if you know what sinigang is supposed to taste like – but it works! I found it utterly delightful to find myself biting into a chunk of watermelon and getting the sourness of the sinigang bursting in my mouth!
The phrase ‘utterly delightful’ is also true for dessert. I shared a medium-sized Gata Leche Flan (S- Php 85; M- Php 148; L- Php 225) with a friend, and we tucked into our flans with gusto. A little surprise, I expected the taste to be more coconut-ty since it was made with coconut cream, but it had a sour component with the native lime shavings instead.
Lastly, I sunk my hamsters into a few pieces of Turon of Manga & Kesong Puti (S- Php 125; M- Php 230; L – Php 440). I tasted more of the sweet mangoes and none of the mild native white cheese. The culprit may also be because I was too busy rolling my piece of turon in the sticky, yema-like sauce they drizzled underneath. Now, that stuff was good – a mango-caramel bomb that explodes in your mouth.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at just how affordable the dishes at Manam were! The dish sizes are also quite brilliant, letting you try bits and pieces of everything, and you can always reorder more of your favorites. I can definitely see myself coming back here again and again!
Manam is located at the Ground Floor of the South Wing of the Mall of Asia Complex (MOA) in Pasay City and is open daily between the hours of 10am – 10pm.